17 February 2007

Oooh! Mr. Kotter! Mr. Kotter!

I so loved Frank McCourt's series about his childhood that I thought I would dip into Teacher Man: A Memoir, his memoir about teaching. It was an enjoyable read,featuring the same irascable, endearing Frank as was familiar to me before, and showing how the scrawny boy muddles his way through adulthood, just as the rest of us do.

McCourt's tale of life as a muddler while leading a classroom offers an interesting contrast; few such dedicated muddlers can manage to arrive on time for 8 am classes. McCourt doesn't deny or justify his muddling, or in any way apologize for it; similarly to Angela's Ashes or 'Tis he lays out the circumstances of his life without obligating the reader emotionally. This lack of obligation instead results in a purer response; when he isn't asking for your sympathy, he earns it.

Strangely enough, muddling through his days as a teacher McCourt gradually finds himself successful as a teacher. Many parts of the story read like they were left over bits from an episode of Welcome Back, Kotter. His story gives hope to all muddlers, that having a good heart and keeping with a job day after day might make one good at it.


Karen said...

This might be just what some of the new teachers in my building need to help get them through the rest of this first, painful year! Nothing like starting out teaching in a building with 550+ seventh graders.